Monday, July 22, 2013

John King likes the "brash show" in the avenues

Photo by Liz Hafalia for the Chronicle

Of course John King likes the hideous new apartment building at 300 Cornwall, at California Street and Fourth Avenue. After all he likes a lot of the recent crap built in San Francisco. He even likes the awful Octavia Boulevard. (Love is really a more accurate term for his feelings for that chronic traffic jam in Hayes Valley, given how he gushed about it long before it was opened to traffic in 2005.)

King describes the building using terms like "provocative," "assertive," and "energetic fun," when "ugly" and "garish" would be more accurate.

To justify the eyesore, King must also denigrate its neighborhood context, which is "nondescript," "slightly faded," though that part of town is a not unattractive residential neighborhood. 

"A corner that housed a smog check station is now a local landmark." That's supposedly the choice the city has: either a smog station or this eyesore.

King pretends that the Planning Department really cares what new buildings look like: "And because it plays by the rules of the city's planning code, no design variances were needed."

Since when were "design variances" required for anything built in San Francisco, like these monstrosities?

King trots out the myth of anti-development and resistance to change in SF and the Bay Area, implying that critics of this sort of thing are sticks-in-the-mud:

Too often in San Francisco and other Bay Area cities, change is viewed with suspicion. Critics take self-righteous pride in derailing projects or making them fit the norm. In response, too many architects and developers dumb down their game, grind out product and call it a day.

King and C.W. Nevius like to brandish this mythology when they're defending the indefensible, but I'm still waiting to learn about some actual examples of this, since it supposedly happens "often."

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At 2:25 PM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

Yech, pretty ugly.

At 3:15 PM, Anonymous SpeaksTheTruth said...

It's a rare thing when the planning department, architectural journalist and critics, developers, realtors and neighbors all agree on the quality and innovation of a building.

The reality is this type of building IS a new local landmark and DOES change the nature of the intersection and this corner of the city. The developer took an old smog checking station and transformed it into something special.

Doing this type of structure without a variance IS difficult. Any industry insider would know that...

Personally I'm skeptical of anyone who uses a circa 2002 blog format and color schemes being in any position to critique cutting edge modern architecture.

At 5:22 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

And I'm skeptical of anyone pompous enough to label a comment "SpeaksTheTruth."

Seems like the Planning Dept. hands out design variances wholesale, judging by the laughable temple on Clement, the de Young Museum, Rincon Hill, the Intercontinental Hotel, etc.

Plopping this building down in the middle of a typical SF neighborhood does the city a disservice, but it probably cheers showoff architects and their oh-so-trendy fellow travelers and "industry insiders" like you. That will show the squares in that neighborhood what "modern architecture" looks like!

At 7:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

King has been and will always be an elitist!

At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was born and raised at 29th avenue and California. You know there is something nice about some things not changing...the Richmond has stayed pretty much the way it was since the time the sand dunes were here.

I actually enjoy the "feeling" of the landscape not changing. I can remember taking walks with my grandfather and father down california street and incredibly the place still looks the same. How many other places in America can you say that gives me a sense of continuity and something positive.

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

These "insiders" are bringing us "cutting edge" buildings like this, and other would-be hipsters are bringing us graffiti/tagging as an art genre and bicycles as a supposedly serious transportation "mode," even though more than 90% of the population in SF don't use bikes.

At 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is interesting to read comments from newer arrivals to San Francisco on various blogs. They feel "progress" for this city is building as many tall towers as possible, removing parking, and most alarming is their hatred of the historic older structures that have made San Francisco a worldwide tourist destination.

Over on Socketsite, people are constantly howling "tear it down", "build it higher", "why does this new structure have parking?". What I find bizarre is many of these new hipsters have Manhattan envy, (or Chicago envy), and want our city to be canyons to towers, with views of hills and bay to be not necessary. They seem to have moved here mostly for the money and are not at all in love with the San Francisco that was. They are also very negative towards anyone over the age of 40.

I want San Francisco to be like San Francisco, not New York. Is that so horrible?

At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want San Francisco to be like San Francisco, not New York. Is that so horrible?

What is horrible is that you want people born well after you to live in a place of your design, not their design. If you were 50 years older you'd have been there in 1963 saying you want music to be like Pat Boone, not the Beatles. Is that so horrible?

At 10:22 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Comparing popular music standards with the physical design of the city's infrastructure is fallacious. San Francisco has always been considered a great American city not because of its music but because of its physical beauty and geography.

As someone who first lived in San Francisco as an 18-year-old in 1960, I can testify that the present attempts to redesign the city according to the specifications of the anti-car fanatics and the "smart growth," dense development Planning Dept. doctrine---40-story residential highrises at Market and Van Ness!---are in the process of making San Francisco a lot less attractive and liveable. They are philistines and vulgarians in the grip of trendy and dumb ideas about development and traffic.


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